Parallels with older Vauxhalls bearing that badge are few but one thing remains the same: you get a lot of car for the money.
It’s about time Vauxhall brought us a really credible super-affordable five-door citycar – and this is it, the VIVA. The name might be familiar, but the car is very much of its time, pitching the Griffin brand into contention in a segment that’s doubled in size in recent years.
On paper, the VIVA seems to tick all these boxes. Its 1. 0-litre ECOTEC petrol engine seems economical enough, there’s modern connectivity for the Facebook generation and a little extra size over the citycar norm means that it ought to be practical too. It’ll need a bit more than that though, to make real headway in such a competitive segment. Does this Vauxhall have what it takes?
Power comes courtesy of a single 75PS 1. 0-litre ECOTEC normally aspirated engine that’s quiet, revvy – and faster than every other entry-level 1. 0-litre petrol rival, making 62mph from rest in 13. 1s. The ride is firm, but supple enough over all but the worst surfaces. There’s quite a lot of noise at speed but bodyroll’s well controlled and the slick gearchange means you can enjoy getting the most from the little three cylinder twin cam engine. In town, a light ‘City’ option on the steering makes parking easy too.
Vauxhall doesn’t need to make this model cutsey and cuddly. If that’s the kind of thing you want from a citycar, then the brand has its endlessly-personalisable ADAM model to suit. Instead, British designer Mark Adams and his team have decided that this VIVA should be a more sensible proposition, though still a very smartly turned-out one in a practically stylish sort of way, with a neat, precise design philosophy that, unlike some rivals, isn’t too gender-specific.
Time to take a seat in the rear. The VIVA’s back seat offers enough room for a six-footer to sit behind a similarly-sized driver.
Ultimately the basics just have to be right for a model in this segment – and here, most of them are. True, this isn’t the most economical or the most spacious citycar you can buy but it does enough in both of these areas to satisfy the needs of most buyers and does so at a price that makes many rivals look needlessly expensive.
Will all of that be enough to allow the brand to carve out a meaningful niche in this segment? Time will tell, but we’d suggest the signs to be promising, Vauxhall having given this VIVA every chance to succeed. They’ve delivered us a contender bearing a British badge with German heritage from an American company in a design that's screwed together in Korea. Proving beyond doubt that even with tiny cars, manufacturers have to think big.